Lower Gulf Coast attractions

Top Choice Nature Reserve in Los Fresnos

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge

This 70-sq-mile federal preserve, northwest of Port Isabel, has recorded more bird species sightings (400 and counting) than any other national wildlife refuge. You're almost guaranteed to see something interesting,…
Top Choice Wildlife Reserve in South Padre Island

Sea Turtle, Inc

No, you can't handle the sea turtles. But you can see rescued turtles and learn firsthand about the slow regrowth of critically endangered Kemp's ridley turtle populations. The center serves as a hospital for injure…
Nature Reserve in South Padre Island

South Padre Island Birding & Nature Center

This 50-acre nature preserve features boardwalks through the dunes, bird blinds, spotting towers and more besides. Look for butterflies, egrets, alligators, turtles and crabs, and learn the differences between a dun…
Beach in South Padre Island

Andy Bowie County Park

Across from (SPI) Convention Center, this pleasant beach park is surrounded by condo and hotel developments. It has a shaded picnic building with views and real toilets and is 5.5 miles north of Isla Blanca. Beach A…
Beach in South Padre Island

North End

Padre Blvd ends 12 miles north of Isla Blanca. North of here, another 20 miles of empty sand and dunes stretches all the way to Port Mansfield Pass. Nude sunbathers, anglers, bird-watchers and other outdoorsy types …
Museum in Port Isabel

Treasures of the Gulf Museum

Sunken treasure! That's the focus of this fun museum, which displays artifacts from three Spanish galleons that went down nearby in 1554. It does a good job of telling the stories of the hapless crews and passengers…
Historic Building in Port Isabel

Port Isabel Lighthouse

The Port Isabel Lighthouse was built (of brick) in 1852, and remained in use until 1905. A climb up its 70 somewhat-precarious steps yields great views of the surrounding area, SPI and the gulf, while displays in a …
Museum in Port Isabel

Port Isabel Historical Museum

Built (in 1899) sturdily of bricks to resist storms, the home of the history museum served at various times as the town’s railroad station, post office and general store. It now houses a large collection of artifact…
Aquarium in South Padre Island

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley – Coastal Studies Laboratory

This small working lab is open for self-guided tours of its small fish tanks and various wall displays. If you can get past its meager utilitarian charms, you'll find lots of information about local marine life. Ent…
Beach in South Padre Island

Edwin King Atwood County Park

Two miles north of Bowie, signed as Beach Access 5, Atwood sports towering sand dunes backing the beach. This is a beautiful, unspoiled area with nothing but long views of the horizon and a couple of toilets. Keep a…